It seems like anywhere you go you can see UPS, Amazon, and FedEx trucks and vans racing from destination to destination to deliver packages and products of all sorts. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever are doing the bulk of their shopping online, so there are also more delivery trucks than ever on the road.
If you get hit by one of these many delivery trucks, who can you hold liable for your damages in a truck accident or commercial delivery vehicle accident claim? Is the delivery driver the only one to blame? Or does their employer also have some responsibility for what happened, too?
Naming the Delivery Driver as a Defendant
When you file an injury claim or lawsuit, you have to name someone or some entity as the defendant, who is the party you say should be liable for your medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and other various damages. In a commercial truck accident claim, the delivery driver is the most likely defendant, but not always.
A delivery driver can be held liable for your damages in a commercial truck crash if they own a privately held auto insurance policy that applies to the situation. As unexpected as it might seem, many delivery drivers who use vans and uniforms branded by a specific company are considered independent contractors, not employees of that company. In this employment situation, it is highly likely the delivery driver does have an insurance policy separate from any that might be provided by the delivery company. Although, some delivery drivers who are employers are still required to purchase insurance that covers them while using a company vehicle.
Naming the Delivery Company as a Defendant
Even when the delivery driver who hit you has a privately held auto insurance policy that applies to the crash, and they are an independent contractor, you can probably still name the delivery company as a defendant in your claim. The legal rule or concept of respondeat superior places liability on an employer for the actions of their employees and contracted workers, at least to a reasonable degree. When regarding commercial truck drivers, this rule is used to place an expectation on delivery companies to hire safe drivers, provide training and supervision as needed, and require company vehicles to be driven safely and responsibly at all times. If the delivery driver causes a crash, then it can be assumed they were not driving safely and, to that extent, the delivery company had conceivably failed its own responsibility.
Because of respondeat superior, you can probably name the delivery company as a second defendant in your commercial truck accident claim, or a defendant in a separate claim. Deciding how to navigate the situation and file the right type and amount of claims, it is highly recommended that you allow a local personal injury attorney to manage your claim on your behalf.
Damages Cannot Overlap or Double-Up
With multiple defendants named for a single accident, the compensation owed to you, the claimant or plaintiff, will need to be divided among those defendants. For example, the delivery driver’s insurance policy could pay for half of your medical bills while the delivery company’s insurance policy pays for the other half. This division of damages is usually beneficial for a claimant because it means you have a greater chance of having all of your damages paid before all applicable insurance policies reach their payout caps.
However, you cannot be paid twice for the same damage, which is an issue known as doubling-up or double-dipping. For example, if you are paid $10,000 from the delivery driver’s policy for vehicle replacement costs, then you cannot also get $10,000 from the delivery company’s policy for that same reason. Again, working with a personal injury lawyer can help calculate and negotiate your damages to find a way to secure as much compensation for you as possible without any overlap.
Tabor Law Firm is Indiana’s premier personal injury law firm. If you need the help of our Indianapolis-based attorneys for a commercial truck accident, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Call (317) 236-9000 to schedule a FREE consultation!